DIAMOND WEDDING ANNIVERSARY
1 1914, Hupei, China:
Blind man begging in the street!
the 6-year old girl shouts under
his window and runs away,
but the 12 year-old boy ignores
her tauntings and continues
reciting the Four Classics
in a sing-song voice to commit
those wisdom words to memory.
They lived diagonally across the street
in a six-house courtyard. He would go
to the Sorbonne and write a thesis on
Irish Easter Rebellion of 1916.
She would graduate valedictorian
from Hupei Normal School
and receive five job offers
to teach in her province.
2 March 1, 1934 (Lunar 1-15), Wuchang:
It's his winter semester break teaching
at Guangzhou's Chung Shan University
he takes the night boat to Hong Kong,
an American steamship to Shanghai,
train to Nanking, boat to Hankou, and
ferry to Wuchang a week's journey
of 1400 miles to marry her
on the first full moon of the New Year.
She has taken leave for a month
from Hupei Elementary School
to look after her sick father who
would die a day after their wedding.
3 Februay 24, 1994 (Lunar 1-15), Palo Alto:
All day I help Mom search through
two dozen boxes and suitcases but
couldn't find her wedding picture.
On Dad's brown leather luggage,
I spot the oval PAA logo, the wings
that flew us to America, and when
I ask him about the sticker resembling
a Swiss flag "Laurie's Hotel, Agra"
Dad tells me his visit there in '48
en route to the Paris United Nations'
Conference, seeing the Taj Mahal,
built in 1648 by a Mogul emperor
to honor his wife, how he was dazzled
by this marble mosque, its diamond
top gleaming in the moonlight.
I'm reading about events of 1934
Fermi smashes uranium with neutrons,
Dali paints William Tell,
Pound writes Nuevo Mundo Cantos,
Shirley Temple stars in Bright Eyes,
Rodgers & Hart compose Blue Moon,
and I ponder on the Chinese 60-year cycle
of Hua Chia-tzû comprising the Twelve
Terrestial Branches of animals & the Five
Celestial Stems of Wood, Fire, Earth,
Metal, Water, on Plato's Nuptial Number
and I marvel at Hui-neng's illumination
at Guangzhou while gathering firewood
after hearing one line from the
Diamond Sutra: Abiding nowhere,
let the mind work on and the Immortal
who flew off on a crane that he drew
at a wine tavern in Wuchang, and
I think of Dad, a troubadour
journeying between these two places
to marry Mom 60 years ago today,
how all things cycle and return.
Now at midnight, I step out
to the front of our house and bow
to the full moon shining over me,
its ring bright as diamonds.
Peter Y. Chou
Palo Alto, 2-24-94 (Lunar 1-15-94)
Yvonne & Tsien Chung Chou
Mom & Dad at Hsen Tsin Studio,
Wuchang, China, Summer 1934